Saturday, August 16, 2008

Do you believe in miracles?

I'm running out of adjectives to describe what Michael Phelps accomplishes in the pool. After winning the 100 butterfly by one hundredth of a second, Michael Phelps admitted he was at a loss for words. Admittedly, so was I. When I opened this blog asking you to believe in the impossible, I thought I was being cheesy. Michael Phelps knew differently. As did Mark Spitz. In an interview after the race, he admitted to knowing Phelps could (even would) accomplish this outlandish goal since Michael Phelps broke a world record nearly two years ago. Hearing these words of praise, Mr. Phelps looked stunned to be receiving such compliments. Michael seemed unwilling to accept the title of "greatest Olympian," but Mark felt the title belonged to Phelps. As happy as Spitz seemed to hand over his swimming honors to a new king, Phelps seemed even more humble to receive it. Tonight, Phelps has his last swim of these games, a bittersweet thought for those of us who thrive on watching him do the impossible, but probably a sweet conclusion for him to a week of writing history every time he jumped in the pool. Congratulations, Michael, and best of luck with whatever you decide to accomplish next.

Another American Olympian is facing a very different feeling this morning. Sprinter Tyson Gay did not medal in his quest to be the fastest man on Earth; Jamaican Usain Bolt (whose name implies running at lightning speeds) won and set a new world record. Gay feels he let down the expectations of the entire country. Yes, I wanted Gay to win. Yes, I thought he could do it. But just because he didn't doesn't make him less of an Olympian. It reminds me of a line from one of my favorite Olympic movies: Cool Runnings. The coach tells his bobsled racer, a former sprinter, about his own brush with Olympic greatness. He won a gold medal, only to get caught cheating. A gold medal: "If you're not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it." From what I've seen, both Tyson Gay and Michael Phelps are enough without it. Tyson Gay comes up short, while Michael Phelps finds the wall first time after time. In my book, that doesn't make one greater than the other. I think Michael Phelps understands that; that's why he refuses to accept the title of "Greatest Olympian of All Time." He knows that the medal count is not a true measure of greatness.


Karalee said...

Amen Sister. Well written and expressed : )

Judy said...

your olympic comments made me wish I was back home with my dvr so I could watch the events when they happened....never got to always the replays...hate watching tv with the fil.